A note on Reviews

This blog is primarily dedicated to professional musical theater talk, reviews, news, and the occasional personal rant or story about this or that (as you know, my dog is a primary topic of interest).

I wanted to write a note about the shows I review. I keep getting notes, calls, and e-mails about reviewing your shows, and wanted to respond.

I am a member of the professional theater union SDC (Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers) and am dedicated to professional union-based theater productions. There’s an entire blog post in there somewhere, but not for today. I am also a great proponent of professional theatre in an appropriate professional house, with professional backstage crew, full-size orchestras as written for the production, proscenium-based set design when this is integral to the artistic value of the show, and overall quality.

I review only professional musical theatre. My only exceptions are Croswell Opera House (which has a semi-professional summer season and always uses a full-size orchestra, and which was the last remaining summer stock house in the area before they reorganized a few years ago) the occasional Encore Musical Theater review (they do employ several professional performers from show to show, so I give them some leeway) and University of Michigan’s Musical Theater program productions (which, truth be told, are often more professionally produced than many other  shows). I also have strong feelings about what constitutes professional, and what should and should not be produced in a black box. I’ve previously posted on the types of shows that I will not go see in a black box, for example, My Fair Lady, Annie, or The Sound of Music which are all set-intensive proscenium theatre shows.

I also will not review community theater, high school theater, or other non-professional musical theater productions. Opera and community orchestra and chorus concerts are also out. I have already contacted some organizations privately about musical theater reviews in non-traditional venues (such as an upcoming musical theater piece being done by a professional opera company). I look forward to seeing your production.

I am not a paid reviewer. I pay for my own tickets, and sometimes attend the production by myself, sometimes with friends. I am under no obligation to review every show out there, especially when I don’t like the shows themselves or have no interest in seeing them. I want to see no more productions of Guys and Dolls again in my life….ever….by anyone. I even turn away to another station from Sirius XM radio’s On Broadway channel when songs from G&D come on…

But when I do review your show, I am looking at it through the eyes of a professional in the field of musical theater, and I have no qualms about exposing deficits in productions that should otherwise be better. I’m not interested in seeing amateur caliber professional productions, and when it smacks of that, I’ll label it as that. I have no problems with community theatre. I’ve directed for countless community theaters locally. But there is a difference between amateur theater and professional theater.

And that’s the view from Ann Arbor today…

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